Right now I’m listening to fate. I don’t actually believe in fate but sometimes you have to use it just to make excuses! I want to play World of Warcraft but I’m resisting in order to post this. Since they announced the latest expansion I’ve been avoiding any news about it so that I wouldn’t get suckered back into the game but then last Friday everything conspired against me. First I received an email saying if you preorder now you can access the Demon Hunter class early. Then I returned from work to find my boyfriend had been to Waterstones and got me the latest WoW book. I was already downloading the game again by the time I then realised that the day of release for the Legion expansion is the day I return from the Discworld Convention and happen to have already booked off for recuperating from that! Clearly it is meant to be…
Anyway that isn’t what I was supposed to be talking about in this post. It was actually inspired by a book I have recently read called “In Defence of Food” by Michael Pollan. It’s not often I’ll read a nutrition based book (or at least not one that isn’t incredibly scientific – I can be a huge nerd and as a kid I read and re-read all sorts of scientific books aimed at kids for fun) but this one caught my eye. I think I’m a bit late jumping on the band wagon as it seems it was very popular but was published around 8 years ago so I’m guessing all the hype was back then.
The book inspired this post because in it he basically says a lot of what I believe around “dieting” anyway. Essentially that we need to stop all these stupid fad diets and cutting out certain food groups (unless you actually have an intolerance of course) and just go back to basics. Stop overeating and stop eating processed rubbish. Don’t get me wrong, I love the processed rubbish (namely Ben & Jerry’s or a nice bar of Galaxy) but it is very true what he says. So much of our food comes pre-cooked or as a “healthy” option but it isn’t actually very healthy at all. Low fat food has so many other random things added to it to replace what the fat did for it (taste and texture to name just a couple of things) that half the time they end up less healthy for us but we don’t care. We just go “ooh low fat” and grab the packet or look at the calories and think oh, only 514 in that, must be ok, completely ignoring the fact it’s got an overly high salt content or has 12 ingredients in it that a PhD in Chemistry would struggle to pronounce. He even says to ignore all the macro nutrient stuff; after all yes our bodies technically know that we’re lacking in vitamin D but we ourselves and other animals don’t know that. They just crave whatever food has it and go searching for it. We should be doing the same instead of sitting here staring at charts on various sites and apps tearing ourselves apart because my carbohydrates are 1% lower than they should be.
What we should be doing is listening to our bodies. They’ve evolved to know what we need. If we are running low on sugar they tell us to go eat some fruit. Craving a ham sandwich? It’s probably because you’re low on protein. Of course we don’t know that, we just know we really fancy a ham sandwich but we also don’t listen to that. We just think oh I’m hungry, I’ll go grab that really tempting cake that’s sitting in the cupboard. We insist on eating at set times, our bodies get used to it but in the wild we wouldn’t have that luxury. You’d eat what you can find when you can find it. I suppose this goes back to my previous post on willpower as well; so often we know we’re not even hungry or don’t really fancy eating yet but we still do it “just because”. I should take a leaf out of my degu’s book; they will eat the food I give to them until they’re full up then they just grab pieces and stash it around their cage (or the room if the cage is open!) then seem to forget about it. I find food in all sorts of weird places. Maybe if I did that with chocolate it would help. Eat a piece, hide a piece, eat a piece, hide a piece. By the time I found it when cleaning it wouldn’t exactly be appealing!
It’s the curse of our species being intelligent I guess. I use that term loosely in some people’s cases 😉 We over analyse and over complicate everything, we love to look at stats and don’t get me wrong, I’m one of these people. I love to look at a graph, I love to feel like everything can be tweaked and controlled but it just isn’t always the way. As with most things in life we need to just relax and take things as they come. This isn’t just with food either. Many decisions can be made easier if we stop worrying about the consequences. Having doubts about something? Don’t sit there trying to list all the pros and cons, you’ll just keep going and going until you hit that desired outcome that you didn’t really know you wanted. My view is generally if you have doubts enough to stop you saying yes to something outright then probably you should just take that as a sign to say no.
Of course all this is far easier said than done but it’s something I’ll definitely be working on. I’m pretty good at it for most things in life but food is definitely an area I need to work on.